PASADENA, California — While some automakers are killing their sedans, others, like Mazda, remain committed to the traditional body style.
The 2018 Mazda6 is proof of that commitment. Significantly refreshed, the midsize sedan gets a couple of new shades of paint, a larger mesh grille, a longer and squared off hood, wing design embellishments, and a more powerful engine plucked from a Mazda CX-9 SUV. It’s a stylish and efficient combination that provides a good bang for the buck at a base price of $35,640 for the range-topping Signature trim level.
As we found out on the twisty roads of Angeles Crest Highway, the updated sedan offers an enjoyable and sporty driving experience despite the lack of a stick—especially when you set it in Sport mode and use its paddle shifters aggressively. It reminds me of the Mazda 626 from the 1990s.
Under the hood, the CX-9-sourced Skactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-four produces the same 250 hp and a healthy 310 lb-ft of torque it does in the three-row crossover. It’s mated to the same six-speed automatic, though the powertrain was retuned for sedan duty. It’s a rather enjoyable ride that’s noticeably quicker than the naturally aspirated mill, which produces a lackluster 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.
In Signature trim, the 2018 Mazda6 rolls mostly gracefully on 19-inch wheels with all-season rubber and its suspension proved fairly forgiving on the unevenly paved streets and highways we encountered during our test runs.
The overall ride experience is actually better than a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan, thanks mostly to the lack of a start/stop system that kills driving enjoyment in a desperate effort to save fuel. We are grateful for the Mazda engineers that fight to keep that scourge at bay.
Instead of start/stop, the Mazda6’s turbo-four features cylinder-deactivation voodoo, which shuts off its two outside cylinders at cruising speeds for better fuel efficiency. Steering is fast and easy to control and the brakes really brake with a light touch.
Our tester wears a heavy coat of Snowflake White Pearl paint (a $200 option) with warm Chestnut Nappa Leather sports interior, UltraSuede flourishes, and nifty Japanese Sen Wood trim.
Inside the soft touch materials look and feel luxurious. Aside from a few carryover switches, the interior is all new, looks smart, and works extremely well on this top trim level. It easily rivals some of Benz’ C-Class offerings. (We can’t vouch for the lower trim levels, but as my granny used to tell me—you get what you pay for)
The Mazda6 also sports new sport seats. They don’t blow, but they totally suck instead. You see, most air-conditioned seats blow cold air on a passenger’s back, which can give them a bit of a chill, but Mazda’s utilize a suction fan to suck air away from its occupants, which keep you cool without over doing it. The new tech is a sweet touch that we will prove handy during the summer. They’re also super comfy and well padded for the most discerning tuchus.
Tech goodies include the usual assortment of lane assist, lane departure, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and other gizmos that beep and prod you into safe driving submission. New for 2018 is the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support—a huge improvement for smartphone junkies. Mazda also equipped the sedan with rain sensing-windshield wipers that come in handy—especially at the car wash when you forget to turn them off.
In all, the 2018 Mazda6 Signature is worth a closer look if you are in the market for a well-equipped sporty sedan but have no desire to break the bank on a premium marque.
2018 Mazda6 Signature Edition 2.5L Turbo Specifications
|PRICE||$35,640 (base) / $36,040 (as configured)|
|ENGINE||2.5L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/250 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||23/31 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||191.5 x 72.4 x 57.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.2 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||135 mph (est)|